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Diabetes and High Blood Pressure

diabetes and high blood pressure


Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in your arteries. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). Your blood pressure is recorded as two figures. For example, 120/80 mm Hg. This is said as 120 over 80. The top (first) number is the systolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. The bottom (second) number is the diastolic pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between each heartbeat.

What is high blood pressure?

Your blood pressure is sustained at the level higher than it should be, and is not just a one-off high reading when you happen to be stressed.

High blood pressure can be:

  • Just a high systolic pressure - for example, 180/70 mm Hg.
  • Just a high diastolic pressure - for example, 120/110 mm Hg.
  • Both - for example, 180/110 mm Hg.

How is high blood pressure diagnosed?

Observation period

If one reading is found to be high, your doctor or nurse will usually advise a time of observation. This means several blood pressure checks at intervals over time. It is also a good time to address any lifestyle factors.

What causes high blood pressure?

The cause is not known in most cases, in this case it is known as essential hypertension. Rarely, high blood pressure is caused by other conditions. It is then called secondary hypertension. For example, certain kidney or hormonal problems can cause high blood pressure.

Do I need any tests?

If you are diagnosed as having high blood pressure you are likely to be examined by your doctor and have some routine tests which include:

  • A urine test to check if you have protein or blood in your urine.
  • A blood test to check your kidney function and to check your cholesterol level.
  • A heart tracing, called an electrocardiogram (ECG).

The purpose of the examination and tests is to:

  • Rule out a secondary cause of high blood pressure.
  • To check to see if the high blood pressure has affected the heart.
  • To check if you have other risk factors such as a high cholesterol level.

Why is high blood pressure a problem?

High blood pressure is a risk factor for developing a cardiovascular disease (such as a heart attack or stroke) and kidney damage, sometime in the future. If you have high blood pressure, over the years it may have a damaging effect to arteries and put a strain on your heart.

What are the benefits of lowering blood pressure?

There is now plenty of good evidence from studies that controlling blood pressure in people with diabetes reduces the risk of future complications.

How can blood pressure be lowered?

There are two ways in which blood pressure can be lowered:

  • Modifications to lifestyle.
  • Medication .

Lifestyle treatments to lower high blood pressure

  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Regular physical activity
  • Have a low salt intake
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink alcohol in moderation(in case you drink)

Too much alcohol can be harmful and can lead to an increase in blood pressure. You should not drink more than the recommended amount. That is: men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. One unit is in about half a pint of normal strength beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits.

When is treatment with medicines started for high blood pressure?

If you have diabetes, treatment with medicines is usually advised if your blood pressure remains at 140/80 mm Hg or above.

Which medicines are used to lower blood pressure?

There are several different medicines that can lower your blood pressure. The one chosen depends on such things as: if you have other medical problems; if you take other medication; possible side-effects of the medicine; your age; your ethnic origin, etc.

How long is medication needed for?

In most cases, medication is needed for life. However, in some people whose blood pressure has been well controlled for at period of time, medication may be able to be stopped. In particular, in people who have made significant changes to their lifestyle (such as lost a lot of weight, stopped heavy drinking, etc). Your doctor will be able to advise you if you can reduce any of your medication.

Smoking and high blood pressure

Smoking does not directly affect the level of your blood pressure. However, smoking greatly adds to your health risk if you already have high blood pressure and diabetes. If you smoke, you should make every effort to stop.


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